Artwork #123

Coral Sea

by Justin Shepherd

Oil on canvas (giclee), 2017

Courtesy of the Artist

The When They’re Gone art project was created to bring awareness of the impact of losing endangered species to extinction. In this series, the colorful upper half of the painting represents populations of living organisms today. The ghostly shadow hanging beneath is representative of the populations of the organism we have lost due to climate change, pollution, and a host of other factors. Coral reefs are one of the most important hot-spots for biodiversity on Earth. Millions of vertebrates and invertebrates depend on the reef to survive. This includes many of the animals we catch for food. Coral Reefs are under threat from climate change, pollution, and physical degradation. I have had the amazing privilege of witnessing the beauty of this amazing and alien underwater ecosystem first-hand. I have dived several times in reefs around the world. The scenes are breathtaking. Massive schools of fluorescent-blue tangs, gigantic meter-long sea turtles, beautiful gardens of coral so perfect in their shape that they look manmade; these are only some of the amazing inhabitants that live just feet below the ocean surface. Every dive reminds me of the importance of protecting this beautiful underwater ecosystem, and I endeavor to share this message with you. Awareness and developing a personal relationship with biodiversity is the first step we can take to protecting them. Here, I have painted you a glimpse into life in this watery world.